Estate superintendents resign in fear of arrest

tea-estate (200x131)    Superintendents of state owned and managed estates have begun to resign from their jobs fearing arrest over non payment of their workers’ retirement benefits.

On Thursday, the Superintendent of Kumarawatte Estate in Moneragala was arrested by the police there on a Court order for non payment of EPF, ETF and gratuity following action filed by Labour Department officers to recover the outstanding dues.

Having spent a night in the police lockup, Superintendent Perera was eventually released yesterday morning through the intervention of the Ceylon Planters’ Society.

The Island learns that, following the ordeal, Sudesh Perera has resigned from his job as the Superintendent of Kumarawatte Estate.

Perera said he had been instructed by his Chairman to give himself up to the police on the assurance he would not be arrested.

It is also learnt that the Superintendent of Le Vallon Estate, Popuressa, too, has suddenly resigned for fear of being arrested. The superintendents are resigning as they see no reason for them to be arrested becausethe required funds have not been provided by the JEDB.

Chairman of the Janatha Estate Development Board, which administers most state-run plantations, Udayasiri Kariyawasam, contacted in this regard, conceded that it alone had defaulted on retirement benefits of its employees to the tune of nearly Rs. 900 million.

He said those outstanding sums were in the estate account books, but there were no funds to settle the defaulted sums.

The JEDB manages 16 estates totaling 11,758 hectares.

Similarly, Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation, which manages 11 government estates, totalling 9,691 acres, too, has defaulted on its employees’ dues to the tune of Rs. 664 million and the third state sector player,

Elakaduwa Plantations, which manages nine estates, has defaulted to the tune of Rs 193 million.

Recently, Minister of State Resources and Enterprise Development Dayasritha Tissera announced a scheme to fell more than 67,000 trees on the affected estates to be sold to the State Timber Corporation to raise more than Rs. 12.7 billion to settle the total defaulted by the three companies over a period of about 16 years.

Some of the victim workers are already said to be dead, while many others are too feeble. (The Island)

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